A woman who used a neti pot to rinse her sinuses twice daily to clear up a chronic sinus infection died from a brain-eating amoeba. According to a news report in USA Today, the 69-year-old woman from Seattle was using tap water filtered using a Brita Water Purifier in a neti pot. It is recommended that only sterile water or saline be used for sinus irrigation. After a month of clearing her sinuses with tap water, the woman saw a quarter-sized red rash on the right side of her nose.
Lethal Brain Infection
The doctor diagnosed it as rosacea, a skin condition, a prescribed an ointment. However, the rash didn’t clear and biopsies didn’t offer any definitive diagnosis. The woman experienced a seizure a year after the rash appeared. At the time, a CT scan showed a half-inch lesion on her brain. Doctors performed surgery to remove the mass, which they said had “unusual characteristics.”
Days later, the woman’s left arm and leg became numb and she had an “altered mental status.” At this time, a neuropathologist suspected an amoebic infection and gave her a drug to treat the infection. But her condition failed to improve and her family ultimately decided to take her off life support. Tests after the woman’s death showed she died of Balamuthia mandrillaris, an amoeba that lives in soil and possibly, water. This pathogen could potentially travel to the brain and cause a fatal infection. Little is known about how people contract the amoeba or how to prevent such an infection.
The woman tested negative for Naegleria fowleri, another amoeba capable of causing deadly brain infections that was linked to the death of a Louisiana man who used a neti pot in 2013. Researchers warn that because cases like this one are so difficult to diagnose, it is possible that more cases have been missed. Around the world, more than 200 cases of Balamuthia infection have been diagnosed of which 70 cases were in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Neti pots are commonly sold in drug stores, but not all of these products actually provide complete and accurate information about how to use the products and what dangers to look out for. Neti pot manufacturers should certainly provide information about the type of water that is to be used to rinse. Without this information, consumers may not know that failure to use sterile water might prove fatal.
If you or a loved one has been harmed as the result of a dangerous or defective product or because a manufacturer failed to provide appropriate information and/or warnings, please contact an experienced product defect lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.